The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy mourns the loss of our own Father Michael Russell Rock, O. de M., who entered into eternal life unexpectedly on Tues., Oct. 5, 2021 in Cleveland, OH. Father Michael, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Russell and Grace Rock, was born in Cleveland, OH on May 21, 1959. A graduate of the Mercedarian parish school of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and then St. Edward High School, he entered Religious Life as a Postulant of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (the Mercedarians) in August 1977. Following his First Profession of Vows on Aug. 15, 1980, he went to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary for his priesthood formation where he received a B.A. in Philosophy in 1982 and later a M.A. in Theology in 1986. Though Fr. Michael was ordained a Priest on May 24, 1986 at his home parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Cleveland, he later finished a M.A in History at Villanova University in 1991. Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1986, he served as the Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Cleveland, OH. In 1989 he became the Director of Vocations and Director of Mission Development for the Mercedarian Community, as well as a Chaplain to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Philadelphia. He continued to work in the initial formation of the Mercedarian students in Philadelphia until he was asked to go to India in 1997 to help establish a new mission and formation program there. After two years of service in India, Fr. Michael was appointed the Pastor of St. Peter Parish in LeRoy, NY (now known as Our Lady of Mercy Parish / St. Brigid Parish) where he served until 2012. While serving in LeRoy, NY, Fr. Michael served as President of the Board at Notre Dame High School in Batavia, NY. He was then appointed the Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Philadelphia, PA, a position he would hold until his death. In 2015 he was made the Vicar Provincial for the Vicariate of the USA for the Mercedarian Order. Aside from his pastoral responsibilities, Fr. Michael was active in several social and philanthropic organizations including his service as a Magistral Chaplain for the Knights of Malta, a member of the Priest Council for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Chairperson of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Patron of the Arts in the Vatican Museum, a member of the National Catholic Historical Society, as well as a member of the Friends of the Metropolitan Opera Association.
Fr. Michael Rock is survived by his brothers in the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, his sister, Patti Settles Baca (Joe), and his sister, Susan Ricci (Daniel); cherished uncle of Charles, Jennifer and Kevin Settles, Karen Eshbaugh (Keith), Daniel Ricci, Russell Ricci (Elena), Nina Hurst (Anthony), and Nicholas Ricci; great uncle to eleven. Fr. Michael has left a lasting impression on all who knew him through his service and generosity. He will always be remembered for his love and devotion to Christ, wisdom, powerful homilies, storytelling and sense of humor.
Following the tradition of Philadelphia, there will be a welcoming of the body on Sunday, Oct. 17th at 4pm. Followed by Vespers from the Office of the Dead said in the church, and – following the tradition of Philadelphia – a special Mass (though not a Funeral Mass) will be said at 8pm. Following the Mass, Compline will be said. On Mon., Oct. 18, 2021 at 8am, there will be Lauds from the Office of the Dead followed by a Funeral Mass that will be celebrated by Archbishop Perez at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Philadelphia at 10:30am. On Wed., Oct. 20, 2021, there will be a viewing from 10am until 12 noon, when a Funeral Mass will be said by Bishop Malesic at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Cleveland, OH, followed by the burial.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in Fr. Michael’s memory be made to the Fathers of Our Lady of Mercy Student Account, to support the education of Mercedarian Brothers and Seminarians.